Meeting the Masai People in Kenya
In June 2002, I took my 20-year-old son, Taylor, on safari in Kenya. I had been on a fabulous MT Sobek trip a few years earlier to Zimbabwe, so I knew we would love it. There were 10 of us on the trip—6 women and 4 men.
Walking through the bush on foot, video camera in hand, I was in heaven, capturing every moment, lions sleeping under a tree, hippos honking in the pond, herds of zebra, wildebeest, and buffalo grazing, and elephant families getting a drink at the river’s edge. It was magical.
As we got to know each other, I knew we each came with an open mind, and great respect for the adventure we were about to have. But I wasn’t prepared for the incredible experience I had meeting and learning about the Masai people.
A warm and welcoming pastoral people, their small family groups live in mud huts, without indoor plumbing, running water or electricity. The men spend their days herding cattle and growing crops. The women tend the children, create the home and prepare the food. They enjoy a very simple life. Several of the Masai men were our guides—teaching us to light a fire by rubbing sticks together, to gather herbs for medicine, and to carve a wood club that could kill an animal.
One night, after dinner we were relaxing by the campfire when we heard a truck approaching. When it arrived, out jumped about 10 Masai women of various ages in their colorful orange garb. They quickly lined up in behind our fire, and started singing and dancing for us. We were delighted! We had not had an opportunity to meet any of the Masai women yet. We joined in and clapped to the music while we watched.
It was an honor to have them there. I instinctively wanted to get closer to them but I wasn’t sure I should. We all felt the pull, and we looked at each other, visually asking each other, “Okay girls, what do we do now?” All of a sudden, Christy stood up, and started clapping and dancing and moving toward the Masai women. I handed my video camera to Taylor and joined her. The rest followed, and within minutes, we were all dancing together and holding hands. I looked in to the eyes of the Masai woman closest to me and felt an instant connection. No words were needed, we understood each other. Amazing! Here were women from very different cultures, languages, customs, half a world away from each other coming together.
In that instant—we were all connected in a way I have never felt before or since. I was holding a half glass of wine, the Masai woman pointed to it, and then to her small plastic container. I gladly poured her a little wine and, in that moment, friends were born.
I often remember that incredible experience and think about the wonderful gift of connection that I was given by this Masai woman. Isn’t this what “world travel” is all about? Thank you MT Sobek!
BJ Hardin, MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: Kenya Walking Safari, 2002